12:00 27 January 2022

As travel rules ease, vacationers will increasingly trust travel experts.

That’s according to ABTA – the association of travel agents and tour operators – which found that 30% of people are more likely to book with travel professionals post-Covid.

That’s good news for Hornchurch-based travel agent May Swan-Easton, 60, and Claire Battone, 51, who both work under the travel adviser’s umbrella.

The UK government is set to ease rules for fully vaccinated people arriving in the UK from 4am on February 11, when travelers will no longer have to take coronavirus tests.

ABTA’s research has found that the main reasons for wanting advice include knowing coronavirus travel requirements and the safety of a package holiday.

Having worked in the travel industry for 43 years and in her current role for 14 years, May said her role of ‘selling dreams’ is ‘the best job in the world’.

May Swan-Easton, 60, has worked in the travel industry for 43 years.
– Credit: Chantelle Billson

May said: “We have teams on the ground all over the place and we have the experience, the knowledge and the know-how.”

Claire added: “On a website you get checkboxes and it will only send you down a certain route.

“We’ll tell you what’s the best value and offer real feedback on selected locations, hotels and resorts.”

Claire, who has worked in the industry since she was 16, said only an agent can offer “care” when booking.

New trends have emerged during the pandemic, including “bleisure” – combining business and leisure travel into one trip – which Claire says was popular with her corporate clients before the pandemic and is regaining its former popularity. .


Claire Battone, 51, has worked in the travel industry since she was 16.
– Credit: Chantelle Billson

May said cruises were more popular before Covid, but now there is huge demand for experiences and a desire to get away longer, averaging around 14 nights.

Reflecting on work throughout the pandemic, the couple agreed that Mother’s Day 2020 (March 22), when the first lockdown just came into effect, was the toughest weekend.

Claire explained, “The borders were closing before our eyes and no one knew what was going on.”

But it’s in these unpredictable situations that travel agents apply their expertise to overcome obstacles, they said.

Travel Trends in 2022

According to independent travel advisers May Swan-Easton and Claire Bottone, Greece has remained in demand throughout the pandemic.

Other popular destinations for bookings this year include Mexico, the Caribbean and New York, they said.

Clare said Thailand is “just starting to emerge” and people are now booking holidays at the very last minute “because things change so quickly”.

Additionally, data released by travel association ABTA, which conducted research with 2,000 online consumers, indicates that limited travel opportunities during the pandemic have pushed vacations up the priority list of consumers. clients.

It revealed that 49% of consumers now agree that the holidays are more important to them than before.

ABTA data suggests consumers are choosing to upgrade their accommodation, book longer stays or head to more expensive destinations.

He said popular destinations include Spain, the United States, Italy and Greece, with the Caribbean and the Maldives also growing in popularity.

Will residents of Gidea Park travel abroad in 2022?


Director of Nurture Chiropractic at Gidea Park, Angel Turner, 39.
– Credit: Chantelle Billson

Angel Turner, 39, from Brentwood, director of Nurture Chiropractic in Gidea Park, said she was delighted the restrictions were being eased.

She said: “I don’t feel 100 per cent sure about going abroad because I don’t know if things will change so I prefer to travel and go on holiday in the UK.”


Waiter at Kervan Kitchen in Gidea Park, Alex Desu, 42.
– Credit: Chantelle Billson

Waiter at Kervan Kitchen in Gidea Park, Alex Desu, 42, from Enfield, said: ‘I have not looked at a holiday so far and have no intention of going on holiday for the moment.

“But it’s great that there are restrictions being lifted and we can gain some freedom and feel happier.”

Alex said he could book a vacation later in the year.


Solicitor at F Barnes Solicitors in Gidea Park, Liam Gough, 56.
– Credit: Chantelle Billson

A solicitor at F Barnes Solicitors in Gidea Park, Liam Gough, 56, of Forest Gate, remains hopeful that the further easing of restrictions in the UK will make travel easier after his recent “extremely difficult” trip to Thailand.

Liam said that instead of flying directly to Bangkok on his trip, he had to go through Doha and make a three-hour layover.

The easing of restrictions means it is “much more likely” to consider traveling again this year, as “there will be less paperwork and airlines will be more reliable”, he said.

Liam is hoping for a next trip to Japan in June, but failing that he will opt for a week in Spain in July or August.